Having a complex mental health diagnosis has been very difficult to manage over the past 27 years. Aside from all the negative connotations you or society may have, I consider myself primarily as an expert in the field of my own complex mental health label. The journey has been long and, at times, extremely difficult for my loved ones and myself. Now a qualified therapeutic counsellor, my mission is to help others on their own private journey with difficulties that have arisen recently or from way back and unresolved.
Counselling can be a confidential space where we can work together, without judgement or expectations, to deal with life's ups and downs. Do you feel like you've lost your way a bit? Are you feeling overwhelmed recently? Or do you want to explore and resolve past experiences that have been playing havoc in your life with a qualified professional? Why not take the first step and get in touch here and make the commitment for you!!
For nearly eight years I have worked in the mental health arena in south London with the NHS, The Maudsley Hospital, the UK charity Mind and Certitude, a charity supporting people struggling with their own mental health issues.
I have a specialized service but not restricted to supporting people and their carers, be it family, friends or professionals, with schizophrenia or psychosis. This could be service users who may be experiencing difficult experiences and not managing life at the moment. This service is based around information to better support and cope.
Using my insight into my own mental health diagnosis, gives me a different approach to how I work with counselling clients. I firmly believe life does get better whatever it decides to throw at us. The power of potential is available to everyone.
Do not be disheartened if you find it difficult (or impossible) to get out of bed. The following is to show what can be achieved and gain pleasure from when one is at a stage to do so. Some have helped me get there. Which one appeals to your curiosity?
Guitar – I was 18 and at university when I learnt the guitar. I went through a stage where I would play a lot. Nowadays I don’t play at all but I know it is there.
Art – I love drawing and have attended many courses. I still attend a studio I south London once a week. It's important to be creative, to use that part of the brain that needs to function. I find I sleep better when I have drawn the day before.
Jog/Swim – have always dabbled in these from very early on in Peru. I remember when l smoked I could only run 5 minutes round my block! now I manage 5K quite comfortably. Swimming may not be easily available to most but jogging is!
Tai Chi – I did tai chi for around five years. It played a big part in my life. I would attend 6 am classes and was part of the tai chi community which was all about being holistic.
Yoga – I try to get at least an hour a week. It has been painful comparing myself to other yogis in the studio but after 5 years practising I’m much happier with my ability and getting more out of it.
Cycling – this I have picked up recently and I have noticed more confidence in myself and improved coordination whilst on the bike. (It hasn’t been easy to go on the road but is rewarding)
Reading – I absolutely love reading. Anything that can inspire me or give me more self-awareness and personal development. Biographies of explorers, soldiers, comedies etc. There have been long periods when I have not been able to read through too much confusion, which has been hard. The good news is that the joy I get now from reading is immense.
Continued learning - During these last Covid-19 years I have completed two wildlife conservation courses with Wildlife ACT from South Africa. Really random but happy to share the course with passionate people who care about the natural world.
I must reiterate do not overload yourself with stuff to do. Just manage to put some time away from work to self-care and maintain physical health.
Camino de Santiago
2007, 2010 and 2012. Amassing 1,500 miles in a combined total of 90 days, this has been the most rewarding, but at the same time, the most difficult. Blisters and having to shy away from fellow pilgrims when my medication was due. More on this for the Psychosis service if you are curious about how I dealt with the Pilgrimage and how you can do it.
Tough but such a great experience. I always say to people “Kili was difficult but nothing compared to experiencing psychosis”. One issue prior to making the commitment to climb was that no one knew the effects of altitude and Clozapine! So I was the guinea pig and must say there were no problems.
Two good friends and myself went on this adventure early in my diagnosis. They did not know about it and I was on strong medication then. It was a great holiday of which I had worked hard saving up. Everything went like clockwork. We managed to visit Cuzco, Arequipa, Nazca lines finally spending the last week in Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon.
Diploma Level 4 Therapeutic Counselling Integrative Approach
Level 3 & 2 Counselling Studies
Lead Coach Training 1 & 2
Foundation Degree Art and Design - UAL
Mental Health First Aid
ASIST - Applied Suicide Intervention Skills
The Michael Rosen Award for Best Colleague 2017 out of the 1,000 employees – awarded by Certitude.
Making a Difference Award 2017 – nominated at Certitude.
World Hate Crime Awareness Week
World Mental Health Day
Presentations with school pupils about mental health
Presentation at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference center in Westminster to provide a story of hope through recovery to an audience of professionals, service users and their families.
Community & Volunteering
Lambeth Living Well Collaborative project: I have worked with mothers in group setting who have offspring who are prescribed Clozapine.
London Lambeth Hospital and The Royal Maudsley Hospital: I’ve spent numerous hours working at triage and wards with inpatients listening to their experience and supporting them to feel better about leaving hospital.
General Practitioners: I have attended several Patient Participation Groups providing feedback on giving better patient service.
Lambeth and Southwark Mind: Volunteering this South London based charity that offers long term counselling. I gained a lot of experience and I believe my clients benefitted for the time offered.
Psychosis Therapy Project (PTP): I volunteered here for close to 15 months. Meeting clients in person prior to Covid-19 lockdowns. I was part of the mental health phone line setup as part of the crisis support offered to the PTP’s clients during the pandemic lockdowns.
Articles about Charlie